Thursday afternoon, September 30, 1999

Inside Passage, Alaska, USA
Aboard M/V Columbia
50d 20m North - 122d 20m West - Between Ketchikan, AK & Bellingham, WA

Update via satellite telephone by Jim & Andrew

This will be the final update from Team Lab Rover and our month long
adventure to the Pacific Northwest prior to our arrival back at Lab Rover
Central in Portland, OR tomorrow afternoon. Our nautical portion aboard the
Alaska Marine Ferry System will have taken us over 1,000 nautical miles
through the Inside Passage along the southeast coast of Alaska and British
Columbia. It has saved us close to 2,000 driving miles!! With some minor
truck leaks and repairs needed, we are thankful for the mileage savings.
In general the overall ferry journey has been over quiet protected waters
with only two portions of the trip that exposed the ship to the open
Pacific. With pre-notification from the Captain we were prepared to
transverse the 3-4 foot ocean swells causing brief periods of 10-15 degree
side to side pitch of the boat. Both of us were glad to have our "sea legs"
under us and the weather was kind. I cannot image how this journey might be
under adverse winter weather conditions!!
With no ports between these last two cities of Ketchikan and Bellingham, we
have been permitted to check on Rufus & Cleo every 3-4 hours. They are
becoming less and less thrilled to return to the truck after the 15-minute
visit is over. Cleo looks especially pleadingly at Andrew saying, "do I
really have to?" as he gives the command "truck ride". We will visit and
water them once more this evening and then hopefully off-load at Bellingham,
WA on time tomorrow morning at 6:15 AM.
As this morning's clouds and fog gave way to afternoon sun, the temperatures
climbed into the 40's we were treated to more scenic vistas and wildlife as
the Captain piloted Columbia between Spruce forested islands. We made a
close pass by the small fishing community of Bella Bella during late morning
but had no scheduled stop.
Since our truck is located on the Upper Car Deck accessed by only two
vehicle elevators down to the main car deck, we anticipate a somewhat long
unloading process in Bellingham. The ferry looks to be at its capacity of
130+ vehicles of all sizes and shapes ranging from campers, 18-wheelers,
boats and four wheelers. Since we were almost first on in Skagway, we will
probably be close to last off. However, with only a 4-hour drive South to
Portland, we should be home by early afternoon. After unpacking the truck,
and uninstalling the multitude of communications equipment, the weekend will
be spent doing laundry organizing the trek equipment and re-packing JW for
his return home to Maine. We've now posted a concluding update from
the entire Team Lab Rover with photos of our Inside Passage crossing.